Catherine Bertola and Paul Rooney joined Cuban artists Michel Rives and Fidel Álvarez for a residency in September and October 2003.
Bertola became interested in a building on the Malecón, Havana’s seafront promenade, and Campo Amor, a disused theatre. Her initial idea was to restore a small part of each building back to its original splendour, highlighting the contrast between the grandiose architecture and their current state of decay. These ideas were however too large and costly to realise within the scope of the residency. For the exhibition Fragmentos at the Galería Casa Gaia, Bertola created an installation using local materials. The pattern of a tablecloth, found in an apartment, was created on the floor of the gallery space using sugar, one of Cuba’s main exports.
Bertola writes of her Fellowship:
I had, until this point, never travelled beyond Europe and North America, so my arrival in Cuba was both exciting and overwhelming. It took a while to begin to find my feet, although I don’t think I really ever did, due to the sheer complexity of the country’s social, cultural and political climate.
About Batiscafo Batiscafo is an independent artistic project that develops a programme of one-month residencies with the objective of stimulating dialogue between visiting and Cuban artists. Launched in 2002, the programme of residencies intends to provide local artists with the opportunity to meet and to work alongside its international guests.
Each residency ends with an exhibition or discussion event, where both works in progress and finished pieces are shown. Each year a catalogue is published in English and Spanish that collects the documentation, texts and testimonies of the programme’s participants and critical contributors.
An account of Bertola's residency can be found in the Proyecto Batiscafo catalogue available from the bookshop.